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For the first time since the 1970s, defendants in a cannabis-related criminal case are being allowed to present new scientific and medical studies as part of their defense in a federal trial in California that begins today.
Starting today and for the next three days, U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller will be holding a hearing to determine if the classification of cannabis as a Schedule I substance is supported by scientific and medical evidence.
The marijuana growers using this defense were likely not growing the cannabis in the national forest of Trinity and Tehama counties for medical reasons, which their defense attorney, Zenia Gilg, a member of the NORML legal committee, readily admits. However, her defense is based on the premise that cannabis prohibition is unconstitutional and based on inaccurate information. If the judge agrees with Gilg, the initial ruling will have a massive impact on those with pending federal marijuana charges.
The courts will hear testimony from doctors, researchers, and even the federal Department of Justice, which has been ordered by the administration to not prosecute marijuana offenders who are complying with state laws. Expert witnesses for the defense include physician Dr. Philip Denney and Clinton-era FBI crime analyst James Nolan. They’ll be squaring off against Dr. Bertha Madras, who insists that marijuana use causes brain damage.
Ladybud Magazine commends Judge Mueller for her willingness to hear the evidence in this hearing, despite the protests of prosecutors. It is possible that the next three days could result in the beginning of the end of federal marijuana prohibition. Ladybud will be following the case and reporting on the ruling once it is made publicly available.
UPDATE 10/27/2014 11:30 EST: CANORML has reached out to Ladybud to advise that the hearing was moved up to last Friday and will resume today. Dr. Gregory Carter was cross-examined on Friday, and CANORML’s coverage of the testimony can be read here.
For previous coverage of federal prohibition, click here.
Photo Credit: Valerie Everett under (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr